Henrico County VA
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Safe Harbor Offers Support, Hope

Safe Harbor Public Information Officer Angela Verdery (left) and Community Organizing Manager Stacie Vecchietti(center) join 2010 Volunteer of the Year Lauren Leggett at an awards ceremony.
The Safe Harbor Shelter stands up for victims of domestic violence and is backed by a passionate support staff.

The non-profit shelter offers supportive services for men, women and children who have experienced intimate partner violence. It provides an emergency temporary safe house that’s open to current or past victims of domestic violence 24 hours a day.

Since April 2000, the shelter has been serving people in Henrico County and Metro Richmond.  The organization offers a 24 hour hotline (\287-7877), community counseling, court advocacy, hospital accompaniment and emergency shelter for adults and children.

Safe Harbor has seven volunteer teams for court advocacy, children’s advocacy, house, community outreach, marketing/events, hospital accompaniment and a volunteer engagement team for the community to get involved.  

“We also provide education and outreach about the issue of intimate partner violence and how Safe Harbor services can support those experiencing violence,” said Angela Verdery, public information officer for Safe Harbor.

Last year, the shelter provided more than 2,000 hours of support and group services to individuals and families and offered more than 3,000 nights in their shelters.

The shelter recently formed the Regional Hospital Response Team (RHART) with Hanover Safe Place and the YWCA for survivors who need medical attention at local hospitals. Safe Harbor constantly works with domestic violence victims who seek advice, support and a place to stay while they get back on their feet.
“Safe Harbor serves over 40 survivors of intimate partner violence on an average day,” said Verdery.

There are three other women and children shelters in the area, but Safe Harbor is the only one available for victims in Henrico County. It operates entirely from donations and occasional grants; many of its services are carried out by volunteers. Safe Harbor has trained nearly 4,000 people to provide assistance on topics related to domestic violence and other services it offers.

Currently, the shelter is in desperate need of GRTC bus tickets and gift cards for retail stores such as Kroger, Wal-Mart, Target and CVS to help families with limited resources. “Bus tickets enable our clients to get to work and appointments, while gift cards offer the opportunity to purchase needed items not readily available in our pantry,” Verdery said. The organization also provides a wish list on its website – http://www.safeharborshelter.com – of all the items that it regularly needs.

Lauren Leggett has been volunteering with the shelter since 2008 as an advocate and working the 24-hour hotline. She interacts with clients and callers to provide resources and support. She also works with the Child Advocacy, Community Outreach/Education, and Volunteer Engagement Teams.  

“Helping to stop intimate partner violence has been an interest of mine since college," she said. "In early 2008, I was searching for a new volunteer job, came across Safe Harbor’s call for volunteers and went to the training, which is what really motivated me to work for the agency."

Leggett said that the experience has been wonderful for her, and she's made a number of different connections to members of the community.

“The staff is amazing, full of supportive and friendly people who never treat me as if I’m 'just' a volunteer,” she said.

The shelter is always looking to expand its volunteer base. Volunteers can gain as much from the experience as those they help, Leggett said.

“This commitment to the betterment of lives affected by intimate partner violence helps to strengthen the relationships in our community and build up knowledge to help improve future generations’ interpersonal relationships,” she said.

For details, visit http://www.safeharborshelter.com.
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

The Boathouse to open at Short Pump Town Center

The Boathouse restaurant will open at Short Pump Town Center in the spring, its third location in the region.

“People have asked us to come to the West End for years,” said owner Kevin Healy. “When the opportunity arose, we knew had to jump on it.”

The new restaurant will be located in a 5,800-square-foot space under the Hyatt House Hotel at the town center and will include a large outdoor patio. > Read more.

Getting a ‘mouf’-ful

Boka Kantina exceeds its strong food truck reputation
Already a fan of Boka fare from outdoor events with the Tako Truck, I was delighted to learn of the new restaurant, and eager to see if its reputation held up after putting down brick-and-mortar roots.

Would the food lose its zest if I wasn’t enjoying it in the great outdoors? Would it seem pedestrian served from an ordinary kitchen instead of a truck?

Would the tacos be less satisfying as an antidote to normal lunch hunger – instead of being ingested to stave off desperate hunger after a long afternoon of crowds, sun, and tedious lines? > Read more.

Lakeside microbrewery beginning to take shape

Original Gravity gets the green light to move forward with relocation, expansion into larger space

A Lakeside home-brewing shop has felt the gravitational pull toward the booming craft beer scene.

Original Gravity, a shop that sells beer and wine kits for homebrewers, has just been given the green light to start work on a microbrewery.

Owner Tony Ammendolia is expanding his 1,000-square-foot shop in Lakeside Town Center to 5,000-square-foot digs a few doors down to add a brewery and expand his supplies.

Ammendolia opened the home-brew supply store in November 2011 and since then he said business has taken off.

“I think I outgrew this place in the first year,” Ammendolia said. “We’ve seen steady growth and I’ve been looking for a place to expand to move the shop to get more square footage.” > Read more.

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